Saturday, August 20, 2022

HIMARS Havoc! After US MLRS, Now Bigger, Better, British M270 Rockets Could Join The War Against Russia

Russia fired its Kalibr cruise missiles on a Ukrainian city Vinnytsia far from the conflict-ridden Eastern frontier, killing several civilians. This could be seen as a retaliation for recent Ukrainian strikes on Russian ammunition depots using HIMARS. To further change the landscape of this war, British M270 MLRS could join the fighting soon.

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Former separatist troops in eastern Ukraine claimed that Russia had suffered major casualties in personnel and equipment in less than a week due to coordinated Ukrainian strikes using long-range weapons like the American HIMARS.

The Donetsk, Luhansk, Zaporizhzhia, and Kherson regions where the Russian troops are present have all had large explosions in the last week. The targeting has been very successful, according to satellite imagery and observation by Western analysts.

Following the same strategy as the invading Russian troops, the Ukrainians are pounding strategic assets like ammunition and fuel depots that would dent the Russian operations.

Vadim Denysenko, a senior official at the Ukrainian Interior Ministry, stated they were able to destroy approximately two dozen warehouses with weapons and stocks of fuel.

HIMARS - missile launched.jpg
M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) – Wikimedia Commons

A renowned war correspondent Alexander Sladkov of state-run channel Rossia 1, informed that Ukraine successfully struck Russian command centers on July 11. It has been widely reported that the Ukrainian strike on Russian-held Nova Kakhovka in Kherson killed at least seven people. However, Ukraine maintains that the figure was 52.

Further, the Russian air defense systems like the sophisticated S-400 have proved useless against massive strikes by HIMARS missiles, EurAsian Times reported. The sought-after air defense system has not been able to intercept the HIMAR missiles.

After weeks and months of pleading for long-range missiles from NATO countries, Ukraine finally received them in the recent aid package. The HIMARS multiple launch rocket system from the US is the best in its class, but the Ukrainians have also gotten M777 howitzers from the US and Canada and Caesar long-range howitzers from France.

These long-range weapons allow the Ukrainian troops to hit targets deep into the Russian positions, causing casualties and crippling their combat capability by destroying ammunition.

In addition, to a more robust system than HIMARS, the UK has pledged to provide M270 Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS), which could be a turning point in the war in Ukraine’s favor.

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British MLRS On Their Way?

On June 6, the British Defense Ministry announced that it would provide Ukraine with long-range M270 MLRS systems to defend itself against Russian aggression. The modern M270 armament system will give the Ukrainian troops a significant boost in capability because it can hit targets up to 80 kilometers away with pinpoint accuracy.

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace decided in response to Ukrainian forces’ requests for more long-range, precise weapons to defend themselves against Russian heavy artillery, which has been employed to devastating effect in the eastern Donbas region for the last couple of years months.

In addition to the weapon system, the UK will also provide M31A1 munitions in large quantities. The UK and the US’s decision to give the MLRS High Mobility Artillery Rocket System were closely coordinated. However, even though Ukraine is already using the HIMARS, there’s no clarity on when the more powerful British systems would be sent.

M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System - Wikipedia
M270 Multiple Launch Rocket System – Wikipedia

On June 30, it was revealed that hundreds of Ukrainian troops had completed military training in Britain on the Multiple Launch Rocket Systems (MLRS).

On his visit to Ukraine in June, the former British Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced a training program for the Ukrainian military. Earlier, it had trained soldiers for using Starstreak missiles, as previously noted by EurAsian Times.

The training status of British M270 MLRS and their deployment schedule remains unknown. However, with Russian shelling intensifying and leading to many civilian casualties and the recorded success of the HIMARS, the British systems could soon be expected to be on their way.

Some sources online claim Ukraine is already using them, but EurAsian Times could not independently verify the claims.

Game-Changing British MLRS

The High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) is a versatile weapon. Due to its mobility, it is harder to target and can be crewed by only eight soldiers.

The rockets sent to Ukraine range between 70 and 80 kilometers (about 50 miles). Additionally, they are accurate owing to their GPS guidance systems leading to fewer civilian casualties.

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To make it more challenging for the Russians to locate and target the launchers, the Ukrainians have been launching HIMARS at night, CNN reported. Since the start of the conflict, Russian forces have had difficulty fighting at night, and the Ukrainians are now taking particular advantage of this vulnerability of their adversary.

However, the lightweight (wheeled) M142 HIMARS rocket system is an adaptation of the M270 multiple launch rocket system. Both use the same unified container pod, which can hold six 122mm rockets or a 610mm rocket.

However, the M270 is more potent as it employs two of these canisters, allowing for a volley of 12 missiles instead of 6, which means double the firepower for the Ukrainians against Russian targets. It can fire 12 rounds of rockets in 40 seconds and two rounds of missiles in 10 seconds.

One massive 610mm ATACMS (also known as MGM-144) rocket can be used in place of six 227mm rockets in a typical MLRS container. This surface-to-surface missile has a 310 km maximum flight range and a solid-propellant engine. Its development started in 1980.

The MLRS Family of Munitions that can be fired from M270 systems includes 12 Guided MLRS (GMLRS) or Extended Range (ER) GMLRS rockets, 4 Precision Strike Missiles (PrSM) or two Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS).

Even though the British MLRS has some superior capabilities, the combination of M270 MLRS and HIMARS could be an absolute nightmare for the Russian troops, who have resorted to using Soviet-era artillery in recent times to ration resources. Precision-guided, long-range Western rockets add more teeth to Ukraine’s armed retaliation.

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